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John 15:1-17, Jesus the True Vine

Tuesday, March 20

Healthy Branches

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

The vine and the branches bearing fruit

The gospel of John's Jesus liked to speak in metaphors. In today's metaphor, Jesus likens himself to a vine, and his disciples the branches. Together they bear fruit. (You may know that a branch apart from the vine doesn't bear fruit. Did you consider that a vine apart from its branches doesn't bear fruit either? Could it be that Jesus needs us as much as we need Jesus?)

Jesus also talks about pruning the branches that do not abide in him -- the unhealthy branches that take nutrients and resources away from the branches that do bear fruit. In other words, Jesus talks about removing people that suck the life from the healthy branches instead of helping them grow. If we are the healthy branches, the ones that abide in Jesus and bear fruit (and some days we are), then it might be a good idea once in a while to prune from our lives the people that suck the life out of us instead of helping us grow. We know who those people are. They are the ones that discourage rather than encourage, that take more than they give, that bring us down instead of lifting us up.

Sometimes those people are easy to identify and easy to let go... old friends that have drifted, co-workers from a job we no longer work at. Other times those people are harder to separate from... a parent or a boss. Either way, we can take measures to limit our exposure to them, or to distance ourselves from the drama they bring into our lives. I'm not suggesting that we tell someone to eff off and then never speak to them again. But we can detach emotionally, if not physically, and instead cultivate the relationships that bring us life.

There are 7 billion people on this planet. There are certainly enough people that have the potential to bring us positivity and energy, that we don't need to waste any more time pouring energy into relationships that kill us. Jesus told us to love one another. Loving means giving and taking, encouraging and being encouraged, helping and being helped. Love does not require us to give everything away and receive nothing in return. 

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 15:1-17

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."